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Hum Pathol. 2007 Sep;38(9):1361-71. Epub 2007 May 22.

Activation of the mTOR pathway in sporadic angiomyolipomas and other perivascular epithelioid cell neoplasms.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Angiomyolipoma (AML) belong to a family of tumors known as perivascular epithelioid cell tumors (PEComas) that share a common immunophenotypic profile of muscle and melanocytic differentiation. These tumors are clonal in nature and have a strong association with tuberous sclerosis. Genetic analyses have reported allelic imbalance at the TSC2 locus on 16p13. In the context of non-tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), non-lymphangioleiomyomatosis-associated AMLs, and non-renal PEComas, the functional status of the TSC2 signaling pathway has not been reported. Studies over the last several years have uncovered a critical role of the TSC1/2 genes in negatively regulating the Rheb/mTOR/p70S6K cascade. Here, we examined the activity of this pathway in sporadic AMLs and PEComas using immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses. We found increased levels of phospho-p70S6K, a marker of mTOR activity, in 15 of 15 non-TSC AMLs. This was accompanied by reduced phospho-AKT expression, a pattern that is consistent with the disruption of TSC1/2 function. Western blot analysis confirmed mTOR activation concurrent with the loss of TSC2 and not TSC1 in sporadic AMLs. Similarly, elevated phospho-p70S6K and reduced phospho-AKT expression was detected in 14 of 15 cases of extrarenal PEComas. These observations provide the first functional evidence that mTOR activation is common to sporadic, non-TSC-related AMLs and PEComas. This suggests the possibility that mTOR inhibitors such as rapamycin may be therapeutic for this class of disease.

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